Intel Foundation: Grants for Science Education

OVERVIEW: Intel’s philanthropy comes through both the company’s corporate responsibility and the Intel Foundation. Combined, these entities offer technology grants, entrepreneurial programs for students, research grants, scholarships, and technology gifts that frequently interweave the corporation’s products with classroom pedagogy and curricula. There is an emphasis on improving representation of women and minorities in the field, education competitions, and teacher development.

IP TAKE: Unlike many corporate foundations that have just a few champions, Intel gives quite a few grants every year and its support is diverse in size, subject matter, and recipient group. There are opportunities both big and small from this technology powerhouse, but the foundation doesn't accept unsolicited proposals.

PROFILE: Intel was a pioneer in personal computing and remains the largest semiconductor chip maker in the world. While founders Gordon Moore and Robert Noyce have huge private foundations in their own names, which give millions to science education, the company does its own share of philanthropy, with STEM education the primary interest.

The Intel Foundation has three priorities: education in math, science, and engineering; supporting girls, women, and minorities in the science and engineering fields; and support of Intel employees' efforts to improve their communities.

Underlying all of Intel's grantmaking is the idea of moving education into the 21st century and preparing students for careers—particularly in fields that relate to Intel’s products and services. The foundation tends to support programs that support students and teachers in areas that incorporate technology into the classroom.

Like many corporate-backed funders, the Intel Foundation prefers partnerships where the company can play some role in the work being carried out and likes to give to communities where the company is based (Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Massachusetts). The corporation offers different kinds of support for students, schools, and K-12 nonprofits and its giving is more widespread. 

 That said, it's not always entirely clear which education programs receive support from the foundation, and which are being directly supported by the corporation itself. In either case, education is a major focus of Intel’s philanthropic operations, and K-12 education fits into that in several key ways.

  • The Intel Education Accelerator supports startups with creative approaches to intersecting technology literacy with other educational disciplines. Several organizations servicing K-12 students are among the small number of pilot startups supported by the accelerator.
  • Intel’s K-12 Educator Resources do not offer funding, but do provide a wealth of teacher resources for those looking to improve their skills in planning, pedagogy, and assessments.
  • Intel Education Visionaries are an “elite group of approximately 40 education leaders from around the world who are at the forefront of classroom transformation,” working to develop “and share best practices with educators, administrators and parents worldwide and help Intel design the future of education technology.”
  • Intel also funds science and technology curriculum development, and plays sponsor to science and engineering fairs such as the Intel Science Talent Search and the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, both of which offer substantial awards to the winners in the form of both cash and scholarships.

Intel also provides other forms of direct support for teachers. For example it hosts programs such as the Intel Educator Academy, which gathers STEM educators to exchange best strategies for teaching.

Closing the gender gap in STEM generally and computer science specifically is also a major focus. Intel’s site hosts several documents related to attracting more girls and women into the field, and Intel particularly highlights the work of the organization Girls Who Code, which “teaches girls coding skills through...STEM projects to inspire and prepare them for college and to close the gender gap in technology-related companies.” In that spirit, Intel was a corporate partner in sponsoring a recent Girls Who Code summer program.

For students in higher ed, Intel is a sponsor of collaboratives offering both undergraduate and graduate support. For example, it is a sponsor of higher ed fellowships and undergraduate research through the Semiconductor Research Corporation and is also a patron of the National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering & Science (GEM).

For both K-12 and postsecondary institutions, the Intel Foundation also offers support through a gifts program (matching employees’ financial donations) and grant program (matching “volunteer hours performed by Intel employees and US Intel retirees”). Eligible K-12 organizations include “K-12 schools, PTO’s, PTA’s and other [nonprofit] support organizations for K-12 schools.”

Donations are also offered as a match for volunteer service performed by its employees who contribute 20 hours or more at a school or other nonprofit. Once that level of volunteerism has been reached, “a donation or ‘match’ will be triggered from the Intel Foundation.

All told, Intel gives out hundreds of grants each year, ranging from as little as $5,000 and into the millions of dollars. The foundation supports museums, educational institutions, scholarship funds, professional development programs, and K-12 school districts.

Intel does not accept unsolicited grant proposals, so it can be a challenge to navigate its grant giving. Try starting with a letter of introduction to program staff or to an employee who may be interested in contributing funds or volunteering.

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